How to Avoid Costly Building Errors Impacting Guest Satisfaction

coordinating plans for a casino construction project

According to Raving’s Third Annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey, the percentage of casinos with hotels increased from 61% to 73%. In 2019, 67% of casinos were planning capital expansion.

How about you? Are you part of the 67% planning a remodel of a restaurant, hotel room or a new build? Two of the biggest mistakes I see over and over again is that:

1. The architects and designers are not familiar with the unique needs of gamblers.

2. There is not one central person that is coordinating the build.

So first, let’s talk about your team: Designers – design. Architects – draw. GCs – build. Owners – own. Operators – operate. Controllers – control.

The truth is that each of these players in the building or remodel of your casino construction project of a hotel or restaurant have an important role; however, one piece is missing. The coordinating efforts of a gaming experienced advisor or owner’s rep.

How can you tell when a new restaurant has not been designed by someone who knows GAMING?

Let’s start with your food outlets. Here are a few examples:

• You’ll find that in some resorts, restaurants with front of the house visibility, do not have an attached kitchen. The problem occurs when you do not have proper corridors designed to transport something from the kitchen to the restaurant: staff has to work through the casino.

• Then there is the improper negative and positive air pressure issue causing those eating to smell smoke from the casino. You should have positive air flowing out in the restaurant. Thus “pushing” air in the casino, while negative air is being forced up the ceiling to vent. “Neutral air,” being one system, also causes smoke from the casino to come into the restaurant space.

• Due to limited floor space, operators place slot machines directly in front of the restaurant. The transition and flow space is limited; patrons are uncertain where to go, especially if there are no waiting areas inside the restaurant. And no, players don’t want to play at those games nearest to a noisy restaurant or sports bar. This log jam also creates issues for security to monitor the space.

When you see examples above, you’ve got to wonder, was anyone talking to each other during the construction and design of the property? Besides restaurant design issues, here are a few of my favorites from the hotel side:

  • Furniture that is poorly crafted and shows wear easily and can’t be cleaned.
  • HVAC vents that blow cold air on sleeping heads.
  • Showers that get you wet when turning them on and leak on the bathroom floor.
  • Phones with buttons that can’t be read and don’t call the department you are trying to reach.
  • Lamps that don’t allow you to read in bed.
  • These are all symptoms of a common problem. Lack of coordination.

(And I haven’t even mentioned how building or remodeling can disrupt efficiency in your organization impacting your bottom line if you’re not bridging the gap between construction and operations!)

The Role of an Owner’s Agent

A gaming advisor/owner’s agent begins by immersing themselves into the operation to understand the culture, tradition and goals of the owners. Having an understanding of the casino business – and for Indian gaming businesses, Tribal culture – allows for a holistic approach that balances these attributes. Ultimately, this approach will be forefront in how to proceed.

This is a small list of examples, but they will have a huge impact on the success of your project. Both in the return on investment, and in the return on quality and guest perception. The right gaming savvy advisor will save you thousands of dollars and even more headaches.

For more information on our full service Project Development Program (Raving BUILD) and the many Hospitality services we offer, please contact Amy Hergenrother at [email protected] or by calling 775-329-7864.

Brett L. Magnan